From the Muslim ban to the continuing proxy war in Yemen, the new era of the “war on terror” under the Trump administration has kept Guantánamo largely invisible. But two years since Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a host of cruel measures implemented under his leadership, despite his emphasis on other problematic policies.
Rather than becoming a relic of the war on terror, Trump has instead attempted to revive Guantánamo as a legitimate facility to incarcerate Muslim prisoners. As an institution that has long set the precedent for the mistreatment of Muslims suspected of terrorism, the urgency of addressing the perils of Guantánamo cannot be overstated. Moreover, 17 years after the first prisoners were brought to Guantánamo, it now risks becoming a permanent fixture of the endless war on terror, where human rights abuses remain unabated and where accountability is nonexistent.
Having detained a total of about 780 prisoners from when it opened to incarcerate terror suspects, the number has now dwindled to 40 after prior administrations released many of Guantánamo’s prisoners. Under Trump, however, rather than closing, Guantánamo may very well be expanding.
Keeping the Prison Open While Allowing for More Detention
Guantánamo was an issue that Trump addressed before he became president. During the 2016 elections, he stated that his administration would keep it open and “load it up with some bad dudes.” Though Trump hasn’t completed this threat, it hasn’t prevented him from making it repeatedly and with reference to specific individuals. When Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, ran a truck into a crowd of people in New York City in 2017, Trump said Saipov should be treated as an “enemy combatant,” and that he would consider sending Saipov to Guantánamo — a prison reserved for the detention of Muslims and Muslims alone.
While no new prisoners have been…